"...but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." 3 Nephi 22:8







Monday, July 30, 2012

The Keys

I really dislike contention!

Does anyone besides me feel like this?  Does it seem like no matter how hard you try - something will go wrong?

Feels to me like I get a lot of those opportunities.  But one of my more recent ones reminded me of how distracting contention in my life can be.  It muddles my thinking.

I don't remember the specific cause of the contention, only that there was something upsetting in my life. I am relatively certain that I had done my share to contribute to the negative feelings that were swirling in my mind as I drove away to visit someone who needed a visit.

This friend doesn't live too far away and I go fairly often.  He is 94 years old, widowed, and lonely. He cannot walk without the use of a walker, and even then it is extremely slow and difficult for him.  We talk about his family, his life, his past, and his beliefs.

As I drove towards my friend's house I was distracted by the number of things on my 'to do' list that day as well as whatever contention was a part of my life. I looked at the pile of stuff to be attended to on the passesnger seat of the car as I prepared to climb out of the car to visit my friend.  Carefully I looked over this pile, removing the things I needed to take into the house with me.  I almost always leave my purse locked in the car since I don't need it inside.  I just carry my keys in my hand.

Contention is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving! 

I got out of the car, locked the door, and gave the door a shove.  And instantly I knew I was in trouble.  In my hand there were no keys!  I was in the country, standing outside my homebound friend's house, locked out of my car.  Great!  How could I make such a mistake?  I knew that I was reaping the rewards of contention.

I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and called home for help.  No answer.  So I began to walk home. 

Fortunately it is only about a 25 minute walk.  Unfortunately it was in the heat of a very warm summer day.

My husband helped me retrieve the car but I didn't visit my friend that day. 

My keys were safely locked inside the car and locked inside my heart was another experience with contention. 

I hate how much of my life it sucks up!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Ticket

The week before Mother's Day I received a ticket.  Now there are lots of times when receiving a ticket is a wonderful, happy thing.  There are tickets to plays and concerts, dances and celebrations, tickets for airplanes and trains.  Generally any of these tickets would be great and make me smile.

But receiving this ticket did not make me smile!

I had so much scheduled that day that I didn't know where to even begin.  So I headed to the store to take care of the absolutely necessary grocery purchases, first thing.  This is not a normal choice for me because I had not showered, done my hair, nor even painted my face.  Weird to subject the public to seeing me so undone - but it seemed essential as I looked at my long list of have to do today items.  And of course, I woke up feeling totally crumby!

One block from the grocery store I discover flashing lights behind me. Pulling over I am hoping that the flashing lights will pass me by chasing after some other unsuspecting victim.

I was not so lucky!

Yes, I was speeding.  28 miles per hour.  I didn't think that was so bad since it was a 25 mile per hour zone.  This very kind police woman pointed out that the speed limit had been lowered to 20 miles per hour. 

I heard myself reply, "Are you kidding me?  When did that happen?"

She really was very nice. Apparently many of our small town residents were not yet aware of the change.  So She asked for my drivers licence, my registration and proof of insurance.  I breath a sigh of relief.  I have all those things. This is easy, I tell myself as I am fishing through my jockey box and not finding current proof of insurance.  I keep sorting through every single scrap of paper in this tiny jockey box, knowing that it has to be there. 

But it is not.

This truly considerate police woman is standing there holding my drivers licence, registration, and expired proof of insurance.

OK I know this isn't going so well.  I was speeding and I don't have a current proof of insurance.  My physical illness is beginning to take a backseat to genuine fear. 

And then she points out my expired drivers licence.  Yes truly!  And again I find myself saying, "Are you kidding me?"  She also kindly points out that it should have been renewed five months earlier.  Not real recent.

And I know I am toast!

Mentally I am tallying up my mistakes and the possible monetary cost of all these errors.  I realize that my already over loaded day has gone completely to pieces and may not even come close to successful.

Again I realized how kind this police woman was as she explained her findings. 

* I recieved a warning for speeding.  (I avoid that spot religiously now!)
* I recieved wise counsel to take care of my drivers licence as quickly as possible.
* I received a ticket for the lack of current proof of insurance.  (She told me that this is required by law) Then she explained that as soon as I take prove current insurance coverage, the ticket would be dismissed.

My afternoon began with a brand new and improved list of have to do today. But it ended happily.  Other than the investment of time, my total expense was for the cost of a new drivers licence.

When give the option of having my drivers licence expire in four years or eight.  I pondered on my morning for a whole thirty seconds before I pounced on the eight!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Gift of Gratitude

This summer along with the crazy schedules and blazing heat, I have been blessed frequently with the gift of gratitude.  I know it is a gift from my Heavenly Father.  I recognize it because He has sent it to me before.  It comes at a time when I need it.

The gift of gratitude changes everything around me because it changes me.

It changes how I see things and how I feel about things.  It adds new colors to my view and new ideas to my mind.  It changes my heart.

I have been so filled with gratitude at times that the tears have puddled in the corners of my eyes or rolled down my cheeks.  I have gone to my knees to thank Heavenly Father for His goodness and His mercy.  I feel so grateful for His everlasting kindness in my behalf.

As I have sat at the table to eat, my tears have flowed with appreciation for the bounteous supply of food that is available to me and my family.  I am so grateful that each member of my family has a roof overhead, clothes on their back, food on the table, and safe transportation.

I feel profoundly blessed that all the men in my family are employed.  Money is coming into every home.  What a miracle!

Our family was blessed as someone who had to pass a test to retain employment was able to do just that.  Many people don't pass the test without several times.  Heavenly Father gave us our miracle.  Don't misunderstand - the miracle came after all that could be done was.

I am grateful for the miracle of the the new roof and the blessing that an air conditioner can be repaired with a $15.00 part by and handy husband. This air conditioner is a necessity, not just a luxury.  I am grateful for the miracle of the Invisalign braces that have been wanted for so long. Heavenly Father is watching over this family.

I grabbed a dishcloth from a drawer and was so touched as I held it and washed the dishes.  My sister made it for me. Tears flowed as I felt her love for me.

I am so grateful for the family with a nearly new healthy baby to be followed by a nearly new house and a nearly new car.  These are miracles!

My heart appreciates the kindness of a friend who noticed that our car air conditioner was in need of attention and minutes later it was fixed. 

I am grateful for the death of the cockroaches. Even though it is over and over again! I am also grateful that this little family will be coming home soon!  Even though their little man is far away, I have watched him grow over Skype and blogger.

Joy filled my heart as we sat around a fire with another family roasting marshmallows.  As we visited, I could see the presence of contentment where for months there had been turmoil and restlessness.

I am grateful for an airline sale that allowed us to purchase tickets to go to see a far away family this fall.  What a blessing to see how this family has settled into a lifestyle across the continent.

Our family has survived hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, hailstorms, and fires.

Our family has survived job loss, moving, disappointments, discouragements, dishonesty, and disrespect.

With the help of our loving Heavenly Father, we are running away from surviving racing towards thriving!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Miraculous Hailstorm

Our daughter and her family live in Oklahoma City. It is the land of very interesting weather we have learned during the time they have lived there. Torando season is a part of normal every day life. The tornado siren sounds every Saturday - to test the system. At first I think that the siren brought a rise in blood pressure and a feeling of panic to them all. But I think that they are kind of getting used to it. Tornados are deadly and also expensive because of the damage to property. So far they have always been safe - but tornados have come very close.

They experience wierd winds that blow down the chimney and put out the fire in the fireplace. We spent hours trying to get a fire to burn one night. When the whole living room and kitchen began to overload on the smoke the wind blew in, my husband hauled the smoking log outside into the snow and we opened all the windows and turned on all the ceiling fans to clear the air.

They have snowy winter days. Last year when I flew to Oklahoma City, my flight was delayed 24 hours because of the snow at the airport. They have super hot summers - well over 100 degrees with high humidity.

And they have weird storms.

And the last truly strange storm was a blessing and a miracle in our lives.

You see over the winter months the roof of their house began to leak. She called a roofer to check it out. Bottom line - The whole roof needed to be replaced. No problem to anyone with a spare ten thousand dollars plus lying around.

But they just didn't have it.

They learned that their roof should have been replaced before they purchased their home. It was also suggested that perhaps their insurance should replace the roof because of the damage. So they jumped through all the hoops to learn that no, the insurance company would not replace the roof.

The leak in the roof was repaired and the burden of knowing that they would have to come up with the money somehow, somewhere to replace the roof pressed heavy on their shoulders. And mine. I wonderd how I could help them come up with the money often. Replacement was not a option - it was a necessity.

After the last weird hailstorm, our daughter noticed that several of her neighbors were getting roofs repaired or replaced. Was there really that kind of damage from the hail? So she called the roofer again and the insurance company again. Sure enough - the damage from the hail entitled them to a brand new roof.

In February the roofer sat in my daughter's living room and told her that she needed a really good hailstorm so that her roof would be damaged enough for the insurance company to replace it. It had been a really long time since one had come to Oklahoma City he said.

Today, she has a new roof, thanks to the miraculous hailstrom that found them this spring!

Maybe it will be another long time before another major hailstorm finds them in Oklahoma city.




Monday, July 16, 2012

Kindness

Recently someone very important to me had an experience that I have thought a lot about.  She was treated unkindly by some people in a fairly public place.  It was a very sad situation and should not have occurred.  There was simply no reason for it to occur, except someone made a choice to be unkind. 

It broke her heart!  She cried and cried and cried. 

Of course, crying in public tends to draw attention to the situation. People in their concern for someone who is obviously distraught, ask questions and try to comfort the distraught person.  In this case as the kindness showered upon her, the tears flowed more intensely.  She became so embarrassed that eventually she left.

This young mother had left her baby with a babysitter and gone to a great deal of trouble to be in this place, because she had something that she really needed to do.  But she left crushed instead.

Because of who she is, she will forgive and move on from this experience.  She will give the others who were unkind to her the benefit of the doubt.  She has already commented that perhaps they didn't feel well or had already had a bad day. 

She will get over it.  She will do the right thing.  That is who she is.  That is the right thing to do.

What has happened to kindness?

I wonder that often, when someone seems to be unkind to me.  Are we born with kindness or is it a learned behavior?

Is it important to be kind? 

I grew up hearing the golden rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. My parents taught me that it was important to be kind.  I went to church and heard that same thing taught.  I listened to stories of Jesus and how he taught others to be kind. 

The Bible teaches the story of the good Samaritan who treated a wounded man with infinite kindness.  This man was not only a stanger to him, but a man perceived as an enemy.  What lessons are to be learned from this story?  One of lessons that I learned was that we are to be kind to everyone.  Even people we don't know. 

Yet, we find ouselves making excuses for unkind behavior.  I know - I make them too!

Perhaps I am tired.  Maybe someone was unkind to me first.  Maybe I have already just had a busy day.  Maybe everything has gone wrong for me lately.  And on and on the excuses come.

It takes effort to live as the Savior lived. 

It takes effort to be kind and it is much easier to be self absorbed. 

It takes effort to show consideration for the feelings of others.

It takes effort to be respectful to another person.

It takes effort to return kindness for unkindness.

What does kindness look like?  What does it sound like?  What does it feel like?

Does it matter if I am kind?

Does it matter to me if someone treats me with kindness?  The answer is a resounding YES!

Is kindness dying a slow and painful death or are we just to lazy to go out of our way to be kind?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nauvoo Miracle

Mike and Ginny left for Nauvoo Illinois on Monday June 29, 2012 to serve as missionaries during the Nauvoo pageant. Mike works building scenery and sets and providing security and Ginny sews and repairs costumes. They work long hard hours in the heat and humidity. They have served for about six weeks every summer for a number of years. And they love it!

Every year something goes wrong for Mike and Ginny or their family just before it is time for them to get ready to go.  It isn't usually just a little thing.  It is always big and Mike and Ginny begin to wonder if they should even go.  But their faithful family knows that they need to go.  You see every year miracles occur for Mike and Ginny's family while they are in Nauvoo.

But there is always one big miracle.  Their family call it their Nauvoo miracle.  The miracles are not the same from year to year, but are tailor-made to fit their family.

As the time to leave approached this year there was a crisis that caused Mike and Ginny to wonder what was happening.  Of course their family recognized the pattern.  Something always happenes to try to keep them from going. 

I know this because my son is married to Mike and Ginny's daughter.  Just weeks before they left, my son told me that the annual crisis had arrived and Mike and Ginny were wondering if they needed to stay home.  He reminded Mike that Nauvoo was drawing close and that they needed to go.  Everyone told them to go.

Mike and Ginny's family believe in Nauvoo miracles!

Mike and Ginny arrived in Nauvoo on Wednesday.  Thursday afternoon brought a new and totally unexpected crisis as fire broke out in Pocatello, Idaho where Mike and Ginny live.  The fire spread through the dry brush with breakneck speed fueled by intense Idaho wind.  Within minutes dozens of homes were threatened and evacuation began.

I heard about the fire when my daughter-in-law called me in fear and panic.  The fire was headed straight for her parents home.  It would take a miracle to save Mike and Ginny's home.  Her brother had been on sight as much as possible but was forced to leave a number of times.  He didn't want to be disobedient to the law enforcement officials, but wanted to do all that he could to save his parent's home.

My daughter-in-law invited us to add our prayers to the prayers of Mike and Ginny's family for another Nauvoo miracle, this time it was Mike and Ginny who needed a miracle to save their home.  And we did.

The Charlotte fire damaged over 1000 acres and destroyed or damaged 66 homes.  Many families were displaced, but no lives were lost. The monetary damage is huge.

But Mike and Ginny's house was spared.

The wind turned the fire away from their house.  It had burned ferociously in their neighborhood, taking all in its path.  The fire turned two houses away from Mike and Ginny's house.

We are grateful for this year's first big Nauvoo Miracle!
 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The 4th of July

This year we spent the 4th of July with our family in Idaho Falls.  Scheduling allowed us to arrive on the afternoon of the 3rd to celebrate.

Our holiday began with charcoal grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and all the trimmings.  I indulged in A&W root beer, enjoying every swallow.  As we devoured our food, I was reminded how blessed we are to live in a land that allowed us to be together on any holiday.  Not only do we have the freedom to do that, we are in a season of abundance so that we have the resources to travel to another town and savor being with our family. 

That hasn't always been the case!

We topped off the meal with smores.  I haven't had a smore in years. I won't confess too loudly that I had more than one. Yummy!

Our little two year old grandson received his smore from his mother first, before anyone else.  He was so delighted! He sat in a lawn chair next to me and took the first delicious bite. Then his dad lit a sparkler and handed it to his older brother.  The smore was instantly deposited on my lap as he climbed from his chair and headed towards the sparklers.  He was fascinated, magically entranced.

He was hooked!

He and his two older sisters and brother were enamored and enthralled by the entire evening of fireworks provided by his father.  They could not get enough!  Imaginations were tickled as they wanted to know what each fireworks was called and then waited to see what it looked like.  They could not sit still.  Of course bigger is always better - but sparklers in the hand and poppits to throw held their own variety of joy.They were sad when the fun was over and bedtime called.

This was the best part of the holiday for me.  It was being together with people we love and care about. It was the enjoyment of food provided for us by hands that work hard to make a living and served with love.  It was the joy and the delight of our grandchildren who are still enthralled by simple things.  It was being hugged and taken on walks around the house to see the bedrooms, the toys, and yes - even the mouse in the window well, trying so hard to get out.

It was holding the healthy little baby that has blessed our lives. It was seeing how much he is loved and treasured by us all.  It was being greeted by our sweet daughter in law who has her hands so full with five busy bodies, yet spent the time to clean the house for our arrival.  ( I know her - and she did!)  It was visiting with each other about anything and nothing.

It was being part of a family!

I still feeling profoundly blessed!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Freedom

I was raised by parents who loved The United States of America.  They were both very involved in community events and organizations.  They were interested in the political environment and paid attention to what was going on around them.  They rarely missed the local parades and served faithfully at the local fair and rodeo.  They campaigned for important causes and the candidates they believed in.  They honored the flag as a symbol of our nation and the price that was paid for our freedom.

My parents believed in the destiny of America.  They believed that our land was blessed by God and designed to be a land where people were allowed to think and believe and live according to their own consciences.  They lived through some of our countries difficult days, but never lost faith in the greatness of our country.

Their example taught me well!
I too love our country!  Sometimes I am ashamed at how much I take for granted.  I have never lived anywhere but America but I know that it is a land blessed by the hand of a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to thrive while we are granted the right to choose so much for ourselves.

While we may all find many things about our government that disappoint or disturb us, I don't think there is one better anywhere in the world today.  While we may find much to complain about, we should also look around and see all that there is to be thankful for. 

I have never been homeless.  I have never been mugged on the street. I have never been held up at gunpoint in my own home.  I have never seen a murder.  I have never walked into a grocery store to find totally empty shelves.  I have never had to stand in a line for a few kernels of wheat or a loaf of bread to feed my family for supper.  I have never been arrested or harassed by the military. 

I don't think anyone is opening my mail and censoring it.  I don't think anyone in my neighborhood is spying on me to see if I might be a threat to my government.  No one knocks on my door to collect my taxes.  There isn't anyone telling me where I can and cannot go today or what it is that I must do to earn my right to life. While I don't always agree with eveverything my government does, I am able to express my opinion without fear of being shot on the spot.

Many have paid a high price for my freedom.  Many have given their all!

As we celebrate the birth of our nation, lets also take a moment to be grateful to all who have gone before to pave the way for future generations.  Let's celebrate the things that are good. Let's pray for our country.

Let's rejoice in the freedom we enjoy and be grateful to Heavenly Father for his gift of this land of the free and home of the brave.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Three Miracles

How do you define the word miracle?  What does it look like or feel like or sound like to you?

Do you see a miracle when you turn on the tap and clean, drinkable water flows into your cup, overflowing?

Do you see a miracle when you crawl into bed at night and sleep without fear of attack of any kind?

Do you see a miracle when the first bird of spring sings sweetly through your open window?

I must admit that I am often lacking in my gratitude for miracles that occur around me every day.  I expect them and I take them for granted.  I am often oblivious to the fact that for today, I have all that I need.

I am trying to change the way I view the world and recognize that miracles surround me all the time but my selfishness draws my attention to the things I don't have or the things that I think I need instead.  My prayer list is long and at times almost never changing as I plead with Heavenly Father for the things that I think I need.  Then add the things about my family that concern me and the list is huge!  I am so busy whining about this list that I fail to notice the beautiful blue sky or the blossoming flowers or the green grass.  I am not able to create any of these things!

Recently our family was blessed with many major miracles.  Some of them long prayed for I might add!  Some of them just flowed into our lives, easily, as if someone else were in charge of our world.  My heart has overflowed with gratitude as these miracles have arrived, one by one.  The list began with three huge miracles within just a few days and even now continues.

We are so blessed!

I am so grateful to be able to see the hand of a loving Heavenly Father in our lives!

We are a blessed people who live in a land and time of abundance.  Each member of my family has a roof over their head and food on their table.  We all have clothes to wear and relatively safe transportation.  We have access to shopping malls and grocery stores.  We have clean water (that no one has to carry from a stream, I might add) and electricity.  We have modern technology that allows us to easily communicate with each other over long distances.  None of us has to walk to the stream and pound our clothes clean on a rock.

I am so grateful to live in a land where I have the opportunity to believe in what I want to believe in.  I choose to believe in a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us and blesses us with miracles every day.  I choose to believe that He loved us enough to let His Son die for my sins and misteps throughout this life so that I might have a chance to return to heaven more educated and more prepared to live throughout eternity in peace and harmony.  I am grateful to lean on Heavenly Father daily through prayer.  When I feel alone - He is always there.  When I feel afraid, I can go to my knees.  When I seek answers, I can read His words in the scriptures or go to the words of the living Prophets. 

Life can be very challenging for me! My list of much prayed over miracles yet to receive is still long and at times almost overwhelming.  But for me there is hope because -

I believe in miracles!